Palestinian Foreign Minister says Israel operation must end before ceasefire is called

Riyad Al Maliki speaks in The Hague, a day after meeting members of the International Criminal Court

Foreign Affairs Minister of the Palestinian Authority Riyad Al Maliki. AFP
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The Palestinian Authority's Foreign Minister said on Thursday that any potential ceasefire can happen only once Israel ends what he called its “one-sided aggression”.

Riyad Al Maliki was speaking in The Hague, a day after meeting members of the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinian Authority controls parts of the occupied West Bank.

Mr Al Maliki said "this time the war that Israel is waging is different".

"This time it's a war of revenge," he said.

"First we need to end this one-sided aggression and then we need to call for a ceasefire."

His comments came after Israel said a column of tanks and infantry launched an overnight ground raid in Hamas-controlled Gaza, striking "numerous" targets.

Israel has struck Gaza repeatedly from the air following Hamas's surprise attack on Israel on October 7, which killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.

The militant group is still believed to be holding more than 220 hostages.

EU leaders were expected to call on Thursday for pauses in bombardments into and out of Gaza to enable the distribution of aid to desperate Palestinians.

But Mr Al Maliki said this proposal was unacceptable, as it would not ensure aid could come in and water and electricity supplies be reinstated.

"Israel, by cutting electricity, water and fuel, by forcing people to starvation, by forcibly transferring people, is committing war crimes," he said.

"What we are seeking is accountability."

He added: "The situation in Gaza is so dangerous now that it needs immediate intervention by the (ICC) prosecutor," he said.

Israel has denied committing war crimes, saying it is targeting Hamas, not the Palestinian population.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, it said: "Our only option in this war is to win. While keeping this in mind, we must also look out for the citizens of Palestine. We are not fighting against them."

Inside the Gaza Strip – in pictures

He said the Palestinian Authority was working with the ICC prosecutor and providing the court "with all information to take action."

Mr Al Maliki said the Palestinians made a second submission to the UN's highest International Court of Justice, which is also based in The Hague.

The UN's General Assembly has asked the ICJ's judges for an advisory opinion on occupation in Palestine.

Chief prosecutor Mr Khan's office said earlier this month it was "continuously gathering information" in support of its probe into the Palestinian situation.

It opened a formal investigation in 2021 into the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, including alleged crimes by Israeli forces and by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.

The prosecutor's office "put in place a dedicated team to advance the investigation in relation to the situation in the State of Palestine, the first time a fully resourced team had been established in relation to this situation," it said.

Set up in 2002, the ICC is the only global independent tribunal to probe the world's worst crimes including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Palestine signed up to the court's founding Rome Statute in 2015.

Israel, which is not a member of the ICC, has refused to co-operate with the probe or recognise its jurisdiction.

On Wednesday, Mr Al Maliki held several meetings during his visit to the court on Wednesday.

"Dr Riyad Al Maliki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine, visited the ICC today and held meetings with the President, the Prosecutor and the Registrar of the Court," the world court said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Footage showed Mr Al Maliki shaking hands with the Court's president Piotr Hofmanski, registrar Osvaldo Zavala Giler and chief prosecutor Karim Khan, before sitting down for a discussion.

Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry says more than 6,500 Palestinians have been killed by Israel's relentless retaliatory bombardments, mostly civilians and many of them children.

Updated: October 26, 2023, 12:55 PM